UAH researchers using supercomputers to find COVID-19 cure

STEM

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – There’s a supercomputer analyzing natural compounds found in our everyday world in an attempt to defeat COVID-19.

Researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville believe they’re on track to a new drug discovery. WHNT News 19 found out how they’re processing information at such an incredible rate.

The supercomputer

It takes a team to manufacture a computer powerful enough to analyze millions of molecules found in plants and animals with one objective in mind.

“We spent the first three weeks working very hard to make sure this computer was doing what we wanted it to do in a very efficient way,” said UAH Biology Professor Dr. Jerome Baudry.

Baudry is a pharmaceutical researcher at the UAH. The school teamed up with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, an advanced technology company, to look for a solution to mitigate and block the disease from spreading.

Downloading the data

“Now we’ve started generating real data. So now we are a few days away from being able to tell the scientists who are working in labs, we think you should look at those chemicals. We think they’re very interesting,” said Baudry.

Baudry talked about how his team can operate these giant supercomputers virtually, and how the novel coronavirus high-jacks cells in the human body.

“It forces the cell to make everything the virus needs,” said Baudry.

His team is focused on natural compounds because they have special properties researchers find most valuable.

Preventing COVID-19

“Maybe we can prevent the virus from infecting the cell or maybe we can just make the disease less serious,” he said.

The research is aimed at finding a molecule that strengthens our ability to fight the virus. Baudry said, “people would still maybe get sick, but they would not die out of it.”

Researchers hope to find the right molecule that could stop COVID-19 from working, but it won’t happen overnight.

Researchers said the supercomputer does not replace scientists and doctors. Their intellect is very much useful. The machines cuts down on testing time, and help medical professionals prioritize their goals.

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